Inflation sees ‘explosion’ of Australians working multiple jobs

Australian workers are willing to put a lot on their plate.

Australian workers are willing to put a lot on their plate. Photo: Getty

Alexus De Latora, 38, works full-time as a finance manager for a charity, and devotes much of his spare time to looking after the 27 felines under the care of his self-run cat rescue.

To top it all off, he works up to 20 hours per week as a delivery driver for DoorDash.

He started driving casually for the on-demand delivery company about five years ago to get some extra cash to support his cat rescue, which relies on community donations and his funding.

Alexus De Latora is finding it harder to support his passion of saving cats from the street, despite working two jobs. Photo: Alexus De Latora

But Mr De Latora told TND inflation over the past year has stretched his finances and dried-up community donations, leaving him “backed into a corner” and unable to take a night off.

Key expenses like cat food have “tripled”, and the cost burden isn’t likely to let up any time soon, as many cats in the rescue have lived most of their lives on the streets and are too wild to be rehomed.

“Recently one of my cats passed away, and it didn’t matter how sad I was, I couldn’t afford to have the night off to mourn,” Mr De Latora said.

His situation is not unique; almost a third of DoorDash drivers have a full-time job and choose to ‘dash’ to supplement this income.

Workers scrambling to keep up with inflation

Finder data shows 7 per cent of Australians – equivalent to 1.4 million people – have taken on a second job to bring in extra cash as they struggle to deal with soaring food prices and cost of housing.

This comes after the Australian Bureau of Statistics found the number of multiple job holders increased by 2.7 per cent in the December quarter of 2022.

Greg Jericho, policy director at the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work, said people working multiple jobs to make ends meet was a rising trend pre-pandemic, but it “absolutely exploded” over the past 18 months.

“We’re seeing record numbers of people working two jobs,” he said.

“And we expect this to keep rising while wages fail to keep up with inflation.”

The Consumer Price Index rose 7 per cent over the 12 months to March, while the Wage Price Index rose 3.7 per cent in the same period.

Mr Jericho said there is a growing number of people with multiple jobs, but women and younger workers tend to make up the majority as these groups tend to be paid less and work less hours at their regular jobs.

Nearly a quarter of all secondary jobs are in the admin and support industry, with education, health care, hospitality and retail all seeing a high proportion of multiple job holders, he said.

“It’s just another example of how the pandemic, and also the recent bout of inflation, really has been borne by workers rather than by companies,” Mr Jericho said.

“Company profits are doing well. We’re seeing recent examples of very large profits by the banking sector … increased margins by Coles and Woolworths, and it’s workers who are the ones being forced to make ends meet by working more jobs just to get by.”

The cost of multiple jobs

Working multiple jobs may help alleviate money woes, but it also comes with a set of challenges and risks, said Greg Bamber, Monash University Department of Management and Monash Data Futures Institute professor and co-editor of International & Comparative Employment Relations.

These can include:

  • Increased stress and fatigue, which can affect physical and mental health
  • Reduced work-life balance and quality of life
  • Potential conflicts of interest or breaches of contract with employers
  • Possible tax implications or reduced entitlements to government benefits.

Professor Bamber said Australians looking to work multiple jobs should be wary of these factors and carefully weigh the pros and cons.

They should also seek professional advice from the likes of an appropriate union, employment lawyer or accountant, if they have any doubts or concerns about their rights and obligations.

“[To avoid conflicts of interest or other problems when working multiple jobs], ask your employers for their permission and approval before taking on another job and comply with their policies and contracts,” Professor Bamber said.

“Avoid working for competing or conflicting businesses that may harm your employers’ interests or reputation … [and] manage your time and energy effectively, so that you can perform well in all your jobs and avoid stress or burnout.”

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